By Morgan Bryce

Helping fulfill the Food bank of East Alabama’s mission to eliminate food insecurity in Lee County is the goal of the annual “Empty Bowls” fundraising event, which will be held Feb. 23 at Auburn’s Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center.
According to City of Auburn Art Education Specialist Cari Cleckler, Empty Bowls is a shared event between Auburn and Opelika, offering both a chance to put their own spin on it.
“I think what makes this event so dynamic is that when we swap back and forth, it’s different every time. Each one is fun and different, and it doesn’t give people a chance to say, ‘oh, I went to that last year,’” Cleckler said.
An estimated 500 unique, hancrafted bowls will be available for purchase during the event.
“Every time someone uses a bowl, they’re reminded of what they learn from coming to an event like this,” Cleckler said.
Local chefs will prepare the soups for the event with help from local restaurants like Chappy’s Deli, Niffer’s Place and Panera Bread, who are donating items and ingredients to be used during the event.
In addition to food, there will be live music provided by local jazz singer Terry Rodriguez and the Electric Rangers as well as a presentation from a yet-to-be-named keynote speaker on the different initiatives and programs offered at the food bank.
“You can find yourself living in this kind of bubble of what an amazing town Auburn is … but, you can lose sight of how not everyone is fortunate and that in a place like this there are people who are food insecure,” Cleckler said. “Organizations like our local food bank who are quietly chugging along and working to make a difference need that recognition and ability to stay on the forefront of people’s minds.”
Tickets cost $20, and are available now at Dean Road, Denson and Jan Dempsey community recreation centers.
The event will last from 5-7 p.m. at the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center, which is located at 425 Perry St.